THE NEW MINE FOOTPRINT
In an August 2, 2013, Daily News article KGHM International announced that it would be making modifications to the original proposal to develop the Ajax open pit copper/gold mine in Kamloops. Company representative, Dan Ferriter , Vice President Environmental, reportedly attributed the need for the changes to a discovery of a new body of ore. He further noted that the changes were NOT prompted by concerns expressed in the community. A quote from the newspaper article reads:
“Ferriter was unequivocal in saying the move is not in response to strong opposition to the project proximity to Kamloops.”
WHAT STAYS THE SAME
Toxic mine dust at the particulate levels that are most dangerous to public health (2.5PM) will still be carried by the same winds to descend on the Kamloops population. Since mine toxins can blow up to 40 km and further, the minor increase in distance between the North rock pile, crusher and ore stockpiles and the City boundaries will not change the health hazard the toxins from these sources still pose to anyone living in the Kamloops airshed. In the high winds that often blow from the proposed mining area into the City, the only difference will be a delay of between 1 and 4 minutes before the airborne toxins reach residents.
The location of the open pit remains virtually unchanged and is still only about 1.3 km. from the City urban growth boundary. Concerns regarding noise from blasting and damage to nearby homes will remain the same.
East Waste Rock Pile
The location of the East rock pile remains the same at about 800 metres from the City urban growth boundary.
North Waste Rock Pile, Crusher and processing plant, Ore stockpiles, Buildings
These parts of the footprint will move further south.
Crusher proposed to be ½ km. further away from Urban Growth Boundary
Processing plant proposed to be 1.25 km. further from UGB
North rock pile proposed to be 2.1 km further away from the UGB
Ore stockpiles proposed to be 2.9 km. further from UGB
Taxation and control
The relocation of these parts of the mine footprint outside the City limits means the City cannot collect taxes. The relocation outside the City also denies the City any control over processing activities and mine operations will be in large part self regulated.
Wet Tailings Facility
The originally proposed use of new technology and a dry stack tailings facility has been replaced by the proposed use of old technology and a tailings pond. Despite the viability*of using the old Afton tailings pond site (which KGHM owns) as a location for the wet tailings facility and thus save significant amounts of recreational land and grassland, KGHM has elected to build its wet tailings storage facility in the beautiful Goose Lake area. This wet tailings facility will occupy 6 sq. km. ( twice the footprint size of the dry stack facility).
There are scientific studies that state the risk of failure is greater for a wet tailings facility than for a dry tailings stack, largely because of the larger volume of water used in the old technology.
A tailings impoundment failure, either during construction or during operation, could result in a toxic debris flow down Peterson Creek and into downtown Kamloops.
Operation of a wet tailings facility requires use of greater volumes of water than a dry tailings stack. The proposal is silent on the increase in water usage(which will be substantial) and also on the source of the water. The original proposal required about 15 billion litres of water per year and used Kamloops Lake as the source of water for mining activities. This draw of water would be additional to the substantial amounts of water already taken by Nugold operations.
Peterson Creek Watershed
The original Ajax proposal had some mining activities operating in the Cherry Creek watershed. The new proposal has shifted mining activities to operate primarily in the Peterson Creek watershed. Any contamination of surface or groundwater will affect the Peterson Creek aquifer, Peterson Creek and its route through Kamloops and into the Thompson River.
Peterson Creek Diversion
The Peterson Creek Diversion originally proposed has been increased in size.
Goose Lake, along with parts of the recently acquired Antoniak ranch, will become the 1500 acre tailings pond.
The slope of the open pit will be steeper (increasing the risk of slides – a common problem with open pit mines).
WHAT YOU STILL AREN’T BEING TOLD
KGHM International continues to deny Kamloops residents complete information regarding the content of the rock to be mined. Health risks directly relate to what’s in the rock.
How compromised is the quality of the air you are breathing now?
WHO DOES THE NEW FOOTPRINT BENEFIT?
1. Easier access to any new ore discovered in the vicinity of the original North rock facility
2. No taxes to pay to City
3. No City control over processing activities
4. Wet tailings less complicated technology and easier to build
5. Covered ore stockpiles will prevent valuable ore from blowing away.
1. No dry stack tailings visible from Coquihalla
Since the open pit and East rock pit remain in the same locations, there will be negligible benefits to the major City concerns of health, noise, and dust. The relocation south of the North rock pit, crusher, processing plant and ore stockpiles may potentially reduce some of the larger, visible dust particles released over the Aberdeen and Pineview neighborhoods, but these areas will still receive the larger dust particles released from the open pit and East rock pit.
There will be no significant change to the amount of toxic dust in small (2.5pm) particulate form released because of the distances these smaller particulates can travel. The new locations are still too close to provide any reduced health hazard to the larger Kamloops population located in the river valley. If the new ore body discovery is closer to the City, there may be another North open pit to extract waste rock and ore. The proposal is silent on this issue and the possible location of a second open pit.
Despite the reported statements of a KGHM spokesman in 2013 which identified the need for the changes to the mine footprint as being the discovery of a new ore body, KGHM is now claiming that the new footprint is being presented in response to concerns expressed by the citizens of Kamloops.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
* The viability of the old Afton Tailings pond as a tailings storage facility is identified in the May 17, 2011, Project Description
CONCERNED CITIZENS OF KAMLOOPS